Hawks edge Warriors in 35-28 back-and-forth thriller

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Quarterback Nick Morales runs the ball. (Photos by Karl Swenson)
Quarterback Nick Morales runs the ball. (Photos by Karl Swenson)

Mountlake Terrace quarterback Justin Hopkins threw only one pass in the second half and running back Ryan Lacasse caught only one pass all night. The connection, a 68-yard touchdown play with 55 seconds left in the game, proved to be the game winner as the Hawks held on for a 35-28 win over the Edmonds-Woodway Warriors. Lacasse, who carried the load running the ball for the Hawks, was wide open in the seam of the Warrior defense, pulling in the ball at the E-W 35 and doing the rest on his own, out-running the Warrior secondary for the touchdown.

“We ran that play in the first half and I was wide open, so I told Justin I’d be open and he found me,” said Lacasse. The Hawks last beat the Warriors in 2009.

Edmonds-Woodway had tied the game with 2:22 left on a 10=play drive with E-W quarterback Nick Morales finding Jalen Nash on a quick-out at the Hawk 35. Nash spun away from the defender and finally juked the Terrace safety to get into the endzone and tie the game at 28.

After the ensuing kickoff, the Hawks’ winning drive started at their own 28 and after a couple of small runs, Terrace was forced to pass and it worked masterfully with the Hopkins-Lacasse connection putting the Hawks ahead for good. The Warriors tried to move back down the field and in spite of Josh Gradwohl catching 2 passes for 24 yards and a pair of first downs, the clock eventually proved to be too much to overcome. Edmonds-Woodway’s last play was a hook-and-ladder play ending with Chantz Justice getting tackled just past mid-field as time expired.

Friday’s matchup, the first time the teams have played a league game in years as a result of Edmonds-Woodway’s move to 3A, took on adding meaning as both teams had lost to Meadowdale earlier and needed the conference win. “We’re feeling good,” said Lacasse. “This puts us in a good spot.”

Mountlake Terrace won the toss and started on its own 20. As they would do all night, the Hawks ran methodically down the field, burning over 8 minutes off the clock on a 19-play, 80-yard drive to take the early lead. Malcolm Johnson would run it in on second and goal from the 1 at the 3:52 yard mark. “We are a run first and second and third and if necessary fourth team,” said Hawk coach Tony Umayam. Johnson would also help keep the drive alive as the Hawks converted a fourth and 3 from the E-W 15 to keep the drive alive.

Josh Gradwohl
E-W’s Josh Gradwohl (4) “is always where he’s supposed to be,” Warrior quarterback Nick Morales says.

Edmonds-Woodway would also start its drive at its own 20, immediately going to work with Morales finding Nick Venema on a roll-out screen for 16 yards.   A few players later, Morales would then connect with Josh Gradwohl on back-to back completions, moving the Warriors into Hawk territory at the 23. “He’s not a big guy,” said Morales of Gradwohl,” but he just runs great routes. He’s always where he’s supposed to be.”

The second quarter would start with the Warriors facing a second and 4 from the 17 and after an incomplete pass, Justice was able to get just enough on a rush to get the first down at the 11. The Warriors would then rush four straight plays, the first three for 3 yards each and the last one for no gain, resulting in a turnover on downs back to the Hawks.

Mountlake Terrace got the ball back but after three runs by Hopkins yielded only 2 yards, the Hawks were forced to punt. Taking over on their own 46, the Warrriors started to slowly move down the field including screen passes to Nick Venema and a quick-out to Gradwohl. Now at the Hawk 14, Morales found Tyler Rheinford in the flat on a screen and Rheinford did the rest, rambling through several MLT defenders for the equalizing TD with a little over 2 minutes left in the half. “This is the best Edmonds-Woodway passing team we’ve seen in years,” said Umayam. “We had to respect it.”

The celebration was brief for the Warriors as the Hawks’ Riley Morrin returned the kickoff to the E-W 38 and on the next play Lacasse ran through a huge hole for the touchdown and the 14-7 lead.  E-W tried to score again before half, moving to the Hawk 22 on a flea-flicker play from Morales to Nash, but Morales’s next pass was intercepted by Jacob Wallgren, ending the threat and the half.

In the second half, the Warriors’ number 80, Grant Whitcutt, returned the opening kickoff to mid-field only to have the Hawks own number 80, Gabe Brady, intercept Morales’s first pass and run it back into Warrior territory at the 28. Two plays later, Lacasse faked a reverse to Johnson and kept it himself, running 19 yards for the touchdown. At this point, Lacasse had 95 yards rushing on only 8 carries. “They were keying on Malcolm and it opened it up for me,” said Lacasse.

Edmonds-Woodway would come right back. Starting on their own 27, the Warriors would begin a 11-play drive to the Hawk 21. Facing a fourth and two, Morales rolled out to his right and found Brandon Hohengarten for a flanker screen and the senior fought through a plethora of tacklers into the endzone to tie the game at 21. “He’s a big target and I love throwing to him,” said Morales.

Tyler Rheinford scored  the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Tyler Rheinford scored the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors kicked off to the Terrace 32, but following a long third-down incomplete pass the Hawks punted the ball back to E-W. Edmonds-Woodway again moved down the field, scoring the tying touchdown at the 10:12 mark of the fourth quarter on a 10-yard run by Rheinford. Hohengarten’s 21-yard catch on the previous play set up the touchdown. Morales would finish the night throwing for 245 yards.

The Hawks’ next possession started with a couple of runs by both Johnson and Lacasse before Lacasse broke for 47 yards down to the Warrior 14. Four plays later, Lacasse ran 3 yards up the middle to put the Hawks back up by 7. Lacasse, who would end up with 165 yards, was named the Red Onion Burger Player of the Game by the Sound Live Sports Network.

After the Warriors tied it back it back up, the Hawks would finish off the scoring with Lacasse’s 68-yard touchdown to wrap up the scoring and give Mountlake Terrace its second conference win, and its first over Edmonds-Woodway in five years. “This quite an emotional night. A very back-and-forth game,” said Umayam.

The Hawks (3-1 overall and 2-1 in conference) next play at Shorecrest. The Warriors (1-3 and 1-2) have their homecoming game against Lynnwood next week at 5 p.m. Friday’s game can be seen archived on the Sound Live Sports Network.

E-W 0 7 7 14 28

MLT 7 7 7 14 35

Scoring:

1st quarter

MLT 3:52 Malcolm Johnson 1 yard run (Ivan Melchor kick)

2nd quarter

E-W 2:21 Tyler Rheinford 14 yard pass from Nick Morales(Ebrima Fatty kick)

MLT-2:11 Ryan Lacasse 38 yard run (Melchor kick)

3rd quarter

MLT-10:52 Lacasse 19 yard run (Melchor kick)

E-W-5:52 Brandon Hohengarten 21 yard pass from Morales (Fatty kick)

4th quarter

E-W 10:12 Rheinford 10 yard run (Fatty kick)

MLT-5:56 Lacasse 3 yard run (Melchor kick)

E-W 2:21 Jalen Nash 37 yard pass from Morales (Fatty kick)

MLT :55 Lacasse 68 yard pass from Hopkins (Melchor kick)

— By Jeff Smarr

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